In my role as strat­e­gy lead for a dig­i­tal agency, I have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with many mar­keters. Regard­less of their com­pa­ny, tenure, expe­ri­ence or title, when I ask about the key goal for any cam­paign, asset or web­site, the response is always lead gen.

I absolute­ly sup­port lead gen as a goal, but it should nev­er be the only goal. Much of what I do is edu­cate mar­keters on the areas with­in their orga­ni­za­tions that can be improved with the right dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence. This requires mar­keters to look out­side of their own depart­ments and roles to think holis­ti­cal­ly about the entire com­pa­ny.

What fol­lows are rec­om­men­da­tions I com­mon­ly make to mar­keters, why they’re impor­tant, how to mea­sure them and how to use them to prove greater val­ue.

I. Sales-Marketing Alignment

Every project I can remem­ber from the past two years has involved a com­pa­ny that offers soft­ware that is sup­posed to allow mar­keters to mea­sure the ROI of their efforts by track­ing each lead gen­er­at­ed by mar­ket­ing all the way to con­ver­sion into a cus­tomer. But here’s the fun­ny part: Almost none of them do. Instead, they focus sole­ly on gen­er­at­ing leads because they often don’t have clear report­ing across the orga­ni­za­tion. Sales and mar­ket­ing may be aligned on objec­tives, but data does not flow between the depart­ments. One cus­tomer had such a dif­fi­cult time with report­ing that before talk­ing with him fur­ther about a dig­i­tal over­haul of the com­pa­ny, I rec­om­mend­ed that he hire an ana­lyst to do noth­ing but live in spread­sheets and track leads through­out the sales fun­nel.

Yes, you must first have a means of track­ing the leads, but if your soft­ware does­n’t pro­vide that abil­i­ty, get famil­iar with Excel. There is so much infor­ma­tion you can pro­vide by track­ing that lead, such as:

  • Length of sales cycle
  • Aver­age val­ue of first pur­chase
  • Life­time cus­tomer val­ue
  • Cus­tomer refer­rals
  • Cus­tomer ramp-up time
  • Imple­men­ta­tion time
  • Cus­tomer churn
  • Per­cent­age of mar­ket­ing qual­i­fied leads that result in a sale

With this infor­ma­tion, you can demon­strate that when leads are ini­tial­ly gen­er­at­ed by mar­ket­ing (as opposed to out­bound sales activ­i­ties), the leads are bet­ter qual­i­fied. This short­ens the sales cycle, increas­ing the val­ue of the first pur­chase and sub­se­quent pur­chas­es. Short­er imple­men­ta­tion time means greater adop­tion of the prod­uct, which in turn low­ers cus­tomer attri­tion. By mea­sur­ing these val­ues, you can test dif­fer­ent cam­paigns to deter­mine which is the most effec­tive. Val­i­dat­ing the ROI of your mar­ket­ing efforts leads to a high­er bud­get for new efforts.

II. Marketing For Customer Success

As men­tioned above, mar­ket­ing can improve the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence by short­en­ing imple­men­ta­tion times and facil­i­tat­ing prod­uct adop­tion, which low­ers cus­tomer churn. Some of the rec­om­men­da­tions I have made to com­pa­nies include cre­at­ing inter­ac­tive demos, which serve as both a prospect edu­ca­tion­al tool and a cus­tomer train­ing tool that can eas­i­ly be shared and pro­vide best-in-class train­ing on their web­sites as a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage.

Pro­vid­ing mate­ri­als for edu­cat­ing cus­tomers ear­ly and often will improve your com­pa­ny’s bot­tom line. Field­ing many calls about the same issue? Cre­ate an online forum with ques­tions and answers. Even bet­ter, invite cus­tomers to help build a com­mu­ni­ty and let them answer work­flow ques­tions. Have a new prod­uct release? Use it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve adop­tion by high­light­ing what the new fea­tures or enhance­ments mean for cus­tomers and poten­tial cus­tomers. Use email mar­ket­ing to edu­cate, entice and incen­tivize your cus­tomers: Edu­cate them on what’s com­ing or what they’re not lever­ag­ing, entice them to buy more prod­ucts or upgrade from an old­er ver­sion, incen­tivize them to pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions, tes­ti­mo­ni­als, case stud­ies, etc., so they can advo­cate for your com­pa­ny.

Track every email sent to every cus­tomer. Deter­mine who clicked, who for­ward­ed and who con­tin­ued to engage with your con­tent, and mea­sure those against a con­trol group of those who did­n’t. Deter­mine which con­tent is most suc­cess­ful online and lever­age that to sat­is­fy cus­tomer needs. Data cap­ture is crit­i­cal, and even though it will take time to deter­mine trends, mar­keters can build more effec­tive strate­gies by keep­ing an eye on what’s work­ing and how.

Here are some ways mar­keters can improve cus­tomer suc­cess:

  • Pro­vide self-serve train­ing online with instruc­tion­al videos, FAQs, Q&A forums, com­mu­ni­ties and inter­ac­tive demos.
  • Share email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns for new prod­uct releas­es.
  • Iden­ti­fy and mar­ket to prospects with­in cus­tomer accounts who could poten­tial­ly be new users.
  • Use social media to solic­it feed­back for improve­ments or to address poten­tial cus­tomer issues. Feed that infor­ma­tion to cus­tomer suc­cess and prod­uct man­age­ment as part of a data-based prod­uct improve­ment strat­e­gy.

These are just some of the spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tions I’ve made to mar­keters over the past cou­ple of years. What met­rics do you track beyond lead gen to demon­strate the full val­ue of your mar­ket­ing team to the com­pa­ny?